Eight ways to build the right culture for your team

Critical components of better leadership and a well-developed team

So you’ve decided to start a real estate team! One of the most important aspects of building a team is establishing your culture, yet this step is one of the most-often skipped in the rush to hire team members.

You can teach job skills, but you can’t change someone’s personality or make them embrace your team culture. That must come naturally and depends on you selecting the right people for your team. A good mantra for team leaders is to be “slow to hire and quick to fire” if someone doesn’t fit into the culture or meet the team’s expectations.
These eight steps can help you become a better leader and develop a team with a strong identity.

1. Establish your vision. Define who you are, what you’re building and why. Think back on every team you’ve been a part of and evaluate the best and worst aspects of those teams. You’re likely to find a few positive keywords repeated — those are the basis of your vision. A written mission statement can be a valuable document to clearly state your core values.

Meeting around coffee

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2. Define roles for team members. Each person on your team needs to understand their role within the team and the process they should follow to achieve clearly defined expectations. Holding people accountable is easier when everything is transparent.

3. Lead with your culture. When you begin to hire team members, start by stressing your core values and culture when recruiting. Look for someone who shares those principles — whether it’s a “work hard, play hard” concept you hope to instill or a high value on volunteering in your community — and then assess their skills and past performance.

4. Keep your eyes open to find talent for your team. While some roles may be best filled by someone with real estate experience, you can also recruit your favorite restaurant server or retail professional if that person has the right personality for your team. Some of the strongest teams are established with past customers and clients who can be taught the real estate business.

5. Do a personality assessment of potential team members. Whether you use the DISC assessment or another personality review, these tests can help you hire team members who fit into your culture.

6. Establish a consistent hiring process. Ask interview questions that relate to your culture, such as examples of community involvement or favorite team-building activities. Review performance in previous jobs, have other team members conduct additional interviews and make sure each person truly understands the level of service you wish to provide.

Brainstorming men

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7. Create a pattern of recognition consistent with your culture. If you’re the team that loves to put the fun in every transaction, reward team accomplishments with a night out. If your team is all about community, make donations in someone’s name to their favorite local organization as an award for their work.

8. Hire a coach to increase your own management skills. Being a team leader is far different from being a top-producing agent. A coach or mentor can help you improve your leadership skills and teach you management lessons—all of which will help you establish your team culture.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the backing of a brokerage that supports your efforts building and growing a team. At Long & Foster | Christie’s International Real Estate, for example, coaches, mentors, and programs are in place to nurture team leaders and team members. These initiatives are all part of the company’s ongoing commitment to professional development and education, and key aspects you should consider for your team’s success.